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Council eyes snow-emergency routes

February 28, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 snow and ice storm that made it tough sledding for snow plows and motorists, the Chambersburg Borough Council this week discussed the possibility of creating snow-emergency routes.

"I've never seen a mess like that," Councilwoman Sharon Bigler said at Monday night's council meeting. She and other council members described partially blocked intersections and lanes in the days following the storm.

"We normally do better ... It was the nature of the event," Borough Manager Eric Oyer said. The borough usually waits until about 4 inches of snow have fallen before plowing streets, but the snow followed by sleet, which proved to be a mixture that resisted plowing down to the road surface, he said.

"Somebody needs to sit down with them and tell them how to plow our streets," Councilman Robert Wareham said. "You can't say ... we're not going to do anything unless it's 4 inches" of snow, he said.

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Retired borough employee Larry Miley defended the performance of the plow crews under the circumstances.

"Crawl in with them and take a ride," Miley advised council members.

Designating a thoroughfare as a snow-emergency route would require banning parking during a snow to allow crews to plow and remove snow, Assistant Borough Manager David Finch said.

"The devil is in the details," Finch said. That includes where would residents who use those streets park in the event of a storm, he said.

"How much money do we want to spend?" asked Council President William McLaughlin. Hauling away snow is costly, since dumping it in the Conococheague Creek that runs through the downtown was banned for environmental reasons, he said.

"The fish and duck and mosquito people made a decision we were polluting the stream," McLaughlin said. Snow and ice would have to be hauled a few miles to a field to melt, he said.

The discussion strayed into the areas of the borough's policy for clearing sidewalks, residents shoveling snow onto the streets, plows throwing snow back onto sidewalks and other concerns.

"Compassionate compliance" should be the rule for whether to cite property owners for failing to clear sidewalks, McLaughlin said.

Finch said borough staff will investigate the issues raised and bring them back for discussion at a later meeting.

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